Lions Member Found the Calling to Serve Early in Life

Westport Lions Roar

Barry Winfield transferred his 16-year membership with the Gananoque Lions Club to the Westport Lions when he and his lovely wife Julia bought, in September 2020, the former Free Methodist Church at 14 Spring Street. Throughout his life, Barry has been committed to service to his country, community, and organizations – a great beginning for the Lions’ commitment, “We Serve.” 

Barry recalls the beginnings of his attraction to service, starting at the age of six in Grimsby, Ontario, when he began collecting bottles, newspapers, and coat hangers for recycling – well ahead of the trend in 1947. He joined Cubs at seven, followed by Scouts and Rovers. In 1957, as a Queen’s Scout, he returned to his country of birth for the World Scout Jamboree, near Manchester, England. Scouting, in a small town of 2,200, nurtured the traits that would inform his adult life: service, the love of nature, leadership and the full development of the gifts of character he felt he had been given. 

Barry absorbed the examples of three generations of family on both his mother’s and father’s sides. His paternal grandfather served in World War I in the Middle East and Persia. His father, Tim Winfield, joined the Canadian Army on September 11th, 1939, two days after Canada’s declaration of war. His Dad was shipped to England in November that year and fought through France, Belgium, and Holland, where he sustained the third of his three serious battle wounds. The last wound saw him shipped to England for major surgery, a month before Victory in Europe. His brother Donald fibbed about his age and joined the Army in 1944, at age 17. Donald was wounded and captured in France and spent 10 months in a German Stalag. On Barry’s Mother’s side, her brother John fought in the British Army throughout the war.

In peacetime, the men, and women on both sides of the family continued to foster quality of life through their churches, community fund-raising and initiatives, Lions and Optimists, leadership within the Scouting movement, careers in the police and coaching youth sports. Not surprisingly, Barry found it the most natural and rewarding goal in life to continue along the path to lifelong service. He attended the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston. On graduation in 1963, he joined the Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry as a Lieutenant. He served 31 years, with postings throughout Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. A unique characteristic of Canadian servicemen is their support to communities in emergencies. This was especially true with UN peacekeeping, in the Balkans, Africa and Afghanistan. Canadian servicemen and women built and supported schools (especially for young girls and women) in Afghanistan, laid roads and developed community infrastructure, such as water, electricity, and sewer systems. These tasks are usually carried out in soldiers’ spare time.

Throughout his Army career, Barry continued his involvement in church choirs and youth sports, and with scouting at the regional level. Unfortunately, moving every 16 months prevented involvement in Lions and in church leadership. Upon retirement, however, Barry rejoined the Lions, the Royal Canadian Legion and other community endeavours. He became the CEO of the Royal Military Colleges Foundation and Alumni organization, he helped to found and then to lead the Canadian Paralympic Foundation for nine years. As well, he was the CEO of three different Canadian not-for-profit organizations. 

Julia Winfield was a nurse for 35 years and continues to volunteer with several local service organizations. Barry’s sister Dawnelle participates in both local and international Habitat building initiatives, does fund-raising and works with young people with physical and emotional challenges. Barry’s eldest son Garth has been a Metro Toronto policeman for 31 years. His younger son Blake coaches in youth sports. 

The lesson that can be drawn from the four generations of his family is that service begets service, within one’s family, community and work life.

“I am particularly proud of the Lions’ and the Legion’s selfless service to, and involvement in, all aspects of community life. I see every day how such organizations enrich our communities and are an integral part of the warp and woof of our everyday lives.”  

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